Every day is a new beginning. I am always motivated in the spring. Maybe it’s the lengthening hours of sunshine and the starting of my gardens. Life is bursting forward and I am running face into the wind with all of it. It’s a good time to check in with yourself and see if you are where you want to be…
So now I’m looking at where I am… not just as a homeschooling mother but as a woman. I’m looking at my life and deciding where I need to prune things back, support them better, “fertilize” parts that I want to feed and grow stronger, or ditch completely and pull out at the root to make room for things that better deserve the space in my life.
I am looking first at my physical environment because it drives so much else in ways I don’t think we realize. But there is research that shows how visual chaos affects our ability to focus… which means that visual chaos can breed emotional chaos. When the environment is not calm and clean then neither can the mind be calm and clean. The best thing is that our physical environment can be far easier to change and maintain sometimes than our emotions; and may in fact make it easier to manage our emotions and feelings.
Sometimes I think about my grandmother and her standards of living for us compared to how our culture lives today. My grandmother wouldn’t have allowed someone to see a basket of clean, unfolded laundry in her house where today–we don’t really think anything of it. Think about that. Think of all the things that your grandmother wouldn’t have allowed someone to see or wouldn’t have allowed to go on for any length of time in terms of how her house was kept.
We have really thrown out a lot of those standards of living and decided that other things were more important. We are more focused on relationships and spending our time on things other than cleaning or arguing or enforcing habits of organization. We’ve deemed those things unnecessary compared to what we gain by spending our time focusing on other things with our children.
I don’t disagree. But I do think we have thrown out some valuable life experiences along with the things we felt needed to go.
I do think we may not have seen the value in some of the things that went with that generation because we decided that much of what they did was about image rather than substance. But when I look back, I am seeing where some of those things my grandmother enforced on me and my cousins are the things that made us excel in ways we weren’t expected to and kept us out of trouble in places that our friends fell prey. And I’m thankful for that.
So I am starting with my physical environment.
If this is your journey, too, I would encourage you to tackle even the unseen areas of your home. Several years ago we had to clear out a 900 square foot walk-up attic that my husband kept putting boxes of unfiled papers in. I didn’t like it but he put them there so they wouldn’t be visually chaotic in the main living area of our home. Until we got rid of them, I had no idea how much they were silently nagging at the back of my mind–causing disruption.
Above and beyond what the research says about how visual chaos affects mood and focus, clutter is a huge trauma trigger for me (all of my major PTSD-invoking events happened in cluttered environments). My husband definitely feels some level of comfort in absolute chaos. I don’t understand it, but he does. Unfortunately, I’ve allowed him to live in his comfort zone for nearly 20 years and it’s over. Now, Mama gets the next 20 years and nobody is going to be happy unless Mama is happy. I have–multiple times–organized areas that he uses more frequently than I do only to have him destroy my work. He apologizes, but it keeps happening. I have had to try to find ways to cope for years so that everyone else could live in the mode they were comfortable. No more. Now, Mama matters. There has never been any kind of compromise between the way everyone else wants to live and what would help Mama. If there isn’t going to be compromise, then it’s my turn to have my way. And frankly, my children should have been trained up with a far better sense of this kind of peace.
Because what does it say about a person and what they think they are worth if they are happy to live in mayhem and chaos as opposed to a clean environment? I think about this often. I wonder what we are letting our children believe about their value if we allow their environments to be a consistent mess. I know that when I clear out BigGuy’s spaces, he feels amazing and noticeably better. Why haven’t I taken that cue from him to help him form the habits that keep it that way?
If I’m being honest, it’s laziness on my part. Because doing that means watching him every minute of every day for a month so that I can redirect him as he is starting to go off track and build new habits. It’s a commitment I haven’t made. It’s a monumental commitment. It means reworking our days so that the kids are with me as I do the things that need to get done so that I can watch them; or rework my days with Husbeau so that those things get done by the person who is not watching our children or after they go to bed.
And let’s add to it that Husbeau is one of the people that needs to build these new habits.
It’s gonna be a rough spring, folks… in like a lion…